David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Philosophy 107 (5):243-256 (2010)
It is received wisdom that the skeptic has a devastating line of argument in the following. You probably think, he says, that you know that you have hands. But if you knew that you had hands, then you would also know that you were not a brain in a vat, a brain suspended in fluid with electrodes feeding you perfectly coordinated impressions that are generated by a supercomputer, of a world that looks and moves just like this one. You would know you weren’t in this state if you knew you had hands, since having hands implies you are no brain in a vat. You obviously don’t know you’re not a brain in a vat, though—you have no evidence that would distinguish that state from the normal one you think you’re in. Therefore, by modus tollens, you don’t know you have hands. At least, the skeptic has a devastating argument, it is thought, if we grant him closure of knowledge under known implication, which many of us are inclined to do: roughly, if you know p, and you know that p implies q, then you know q.i To say that this is an intuitively compelling argument is an understatement; the project of finding a reply that isn’t table-thumping, or obfuscating, or special-pleading has exercised philosophers for a very long time. The steps of the argument have been scoured in detail to try to find cracks that will yield under pressure. Some of these efforts have been intriguing, and illuminating, and some even appear to provide dialectical victories that shift the burden of proof back to the skeptic. However, as refutations they all come up short. I will argue that we have missed a very simple point: though the skeptical argument above is valid, it has a false premise, namely, the claim that the thing we obviously know implies the thing we seem obviously not to know. This premise, I will argue, cannot be repaired, so we have a refutation; if the skeptic wants to convince us to worry about our ordinary knowledge, he will have to come up with a completely different argument. Closure of knowledge under known implication (hereafter “closure”), is obviously necessary for the skeptical argument presented above..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Sherrilyn Roush (2010). Closure On Skepticism. Journal of Philosophy 107 (5):243-256.
Dylan Dodd (2012). Evidentialism and Skeptical Arguments. Synthese 189 (2):337-352.
John Greco (2007). External World Skepticism. Philosophy Compass 2 (4):625–649.
James L. White (1991). Knowledge and Deductive Closure. Synthese 86 (3):409 - 423.
Bryan Frances (2005). When a Skeptical Hypothesis is Live. Noûs 39 (4):559–595.
Mylan Engel Jr (2004). What's Wrong with Contextualism, and a Noncontextualist Resolution of the Skeptical Paradox. Erkenntnis 61 (2/3):203 - 231.
Bruce Russell (2005). Contextualism on a Pragmatic, Not a Skeptical, Footing. Acta Analytica 20 (2):26-37.
Jonathan Schaffer (2005). Contrastive Knowledge. In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology 1. Oxford University Press. 235.
Adam Leite (2004). Skepticism, Sensitivity, and Closure, or Why the Closure Principle is Irrelevant to External World Skepticism. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 12 (3):335-350.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads48 ( #41,022 of 1,410,540 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #38,533 of 1,410,540 )
How can I increase my downloads?